Ann Romney and the Feminist Movement

Every mother is a working mother.

Papers such as USA Today, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that high-level Obama shill Hilary Rosen said that in choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, Mrs. Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life."

This illustrates our basic modern conflict about the proper role of mothers - should they stay home and raise their children?  Or should they go out and "do something worthwhile" by getting jobs?  Put another way, is Betty Friedan's "problem that has no name" an actual problem or simply the manifestation of millions of individual private choices of no wider concern?

Having experienced motherhood up close and personal, I'm very well aware that raising children is a huge amount of work.  Early feminists suggested that wives be paid for the housework they do.  That notion ran aground on two inconvenient truths - a) we have nasty words to describe the relationship between a man and woman when the man pays the woman for services, and b) why should a couple engage in financial transactions which would needlessly increase the family tax liability?

Traditionally, a woman needed a man to support her and her children.  Women learned not to offer themselves to a man unless he married her, and she wouldn't marry unless he had grown up enough to have a job.  Feminists found this arrangement to be highly unsatisfactory - they didn't like the fact that women had to be dependent on men and pushed for government programs so that women could be independent without the bother of having to earn enough money to support themselves.  That's what the "liberation" of "women's liberation" means - not having to depend on men.

Didn't work for Betty Friedan.

With the advent of welfare, which pays a woman's living and child-rearing expenses provided she has no man around, women were less dependent on men.  Now that women can get jobs if they want to work and welfare if they don't, they don't really need men to support them.

Men Not Growing Up

Men are perfectly happy not to support women if women don't require it.  The New York Times reports:

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

Why should a woman marry a man if having a husband chops her welfare payment, reduces her day care subsidy, or cuts medical benefits?  Why should a couple subject themselves to the "marriage tax," whereby married couples pay more tax than unmarried people earning the same total amount?  Whether by accident or design, government programs have created many barriers to marriage which are hard to overcome.

Why should a man marry a woman who prefers to support herself?  Having her pay her own share of the rent is a whole lot easier on him and earning her own money helps her maintain her independence from him.  If she stays independent, though, the nature of men is such that her children are hers, not his.

An increase in fatherless children is certainly a trend:

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

Father-Free Families

We're undertaking an unprecedented social experiment - we're going to find out whether our society can raise children to be productive adults without fathers.  The statistics we've collected so far give no grounds for optimism:

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

Studies as well as an infinity of anecdotes and stereotypes suggest that children who grow up without fathers are twenty times more likely to end up in jail than children who're raised with fathers.

Reviewing the academic literature, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University recently found that children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.”

So what has this to do with Mrs. Romney?  She, like both Mrs. Bushes before her, chose to stay home and raise her children so that they'd experience better educational, social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes.  All available evidence suggests that indeed they have, certainly in comparison to your average brat.

Knowing how much work motherhood is, I say, "Bully for her!"  Anybody who says she "never worked a day in her life" is an ignoramus.

Feminism, Fish, and Bicycles

We're finding out that feminists may have had a point in saying that a woman without a man was like a fish without a bicycle - the industrial revolution has progressed to the point that women can live perfectly well on their own when permitted to do so.

The feminists overlooked the minor detail that children without a man - to be specific, their own biological father - are far more likely to end up poor, on drugs, or in jail.  Independence may be OK for women, but it's turning out terribly for their children.

As more and more children grow up to be convicts instead of taxpayers, the drain on our society has nowhere to go but up.  This, too, is another force that makes an overall collapse more likely.

Will men voluntarily stop having sex because they don't want to bring about fatherless kids?  Not hardly.  Are men going to hang around and take on a father's responsibilities just because it might be the right thing to do?  Even less likely.

Will women stop having sex without marriage, as once was generally practiced by all save professionals in the field?  Maybe, but there'll have to be a sea change in our cultural attitudes towards the desirability of children having fathers.

Yes, Ann Romney is a throwback to the past.  If she's also a harbinger of the future, it'll be a far better one, at least for the children.

Lee Tydings is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Lee Tydings or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Well put. It boiled my blood to hear what Rosen said, and then again when she doubled down and attacked Ann again the next day. There are no harder workers - men or women across all industries - then stay-at-home-moms raising 3+ toddlers at the same time. Ann Romney was raising 5 and they were all boys. The job is endlessly tiring, thankless and without a break of any kind. Add to that the fact that parents are no longer allowed to discipline their children the way they ought, and it becomes an order of magnitude more difficult. It's no wonder why liberals only have 1 or 2 kids. When you become their servant 24/7, it's unthinkable to have any more than that.

April 23, 2012 11:31 AM

The media routinely tags conservatives as greedy and heartless while liberals are branded with giving money away. Neither is correct. Both philosophies want a better life for their fellow citizens. But, conservatives want money well spent and liberals to help everyone to share in prosperity.
President Clinton faced a burgeoning debt, a great society legislation that generated more children in poverty than ever before. He faced an opposition congress that demanded welfare reform. Twice he vetoed reduction bills. A veto override was eminent. He was saved by a very intelligent economist on his staff.
The economist said that to reduce debt and also reduce poverty, legislation had to encourage three things for people in poverty:
1. Get a High School Education
2. Do not have children until married
3. Do not get married until 20 years old.
Doing these three things gave a 79% chance of escaping poverty permanently.
President Clinton did it. Legislation was directed to encourage these basic three things. Debt and child poverty went down.
The lesson for us, and particularly is to understand how funds are being spent and does the method promote more need, dependence, or does it generate the escape velocity, the opportunity, encouragement, and , yes, shove to become self-sufficient.

April 23, 2012 11:31 AM

I understand that the article was written to reflect the feelings of conservatives today towards feminists who I think are so totally off-base that they should be pitied rather than despised. We as conservatives have used the left's slogans and talking points once again. To say that a stay at home wife, remember, she does not have to have children, has sold out to the husband and is a slave is absurd. To say that she is dependent on him is ludicrous. They are a family be it two or twenty. There is a thing called love that should be present in a marriage. The husband is as dependent on her as she is on him. It is not dependence that the conversation should be about but a mutual team goal of doing whatever is best for themselves as a family and quit counting the pennies, but what they bring to the table as a couple. When a man and a woman come to this awareness they don't worry about who does what but what is good for them as a couple. If and when children are part of the equation then what the two people decide as a couple is what needs to happen. It is this self interest for the couple and their love for their children will the child be in the best position possible for a productive life in the future when they become an adult. After all, the old question of naming a government agency that does an outstanding job and better than the private sector does the light bulb come on. It simply cannot and does not happen. The government destroys families, it does not enhance families through legislation. We as conservatives should quit trying to find common ground with the feminists and confront them with a 180° alternative and expose their ideas for what they are, family destruction. Our side should be loud and clear and if need be, not very polite, our children are at stake.

April 23, 2012 12:10 PM

The bottom line is that women are just one more victim group who want someone else to pay for whatever they want. They want free birth control and free abortions. They want free child care. They want free medical care, and on and on.

Don't they realize that someone has to pay for all this? If not women, them whom?

April 23, 2012 6:22 PM
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